Writing and Research in Art History
Standards and Expectations for an Art History Paper
What does your art history professor expect in a paper?
First, read your instructor’s assignment carefully to determine any special requirements for particular assignments; those special requirements take precedence over the suggestions below; in general, we want papers to have the following:
We also expect papers to have these basic parts:Introductory Paragraph: Your thesis
Body of the Paper
Each paragraph contains evidence to support your thesis statement and forms a coherent unit focused on a single main element of that thesis; ordered in a logical sequence, paragraphs demonstrate the validity of your argument. Summarize each paragraph’s main point in your topic sentence, generally the first in the paragraph. As you edit your paper, check each paragraph to make sure that you have not included material in one that would more appropriately fit in another. In your argument, be certain to consider formal qualities of your work, along with elements of its content (e.g., meaning, iconography, original function) and its historical/cultural context.
How will we evaluate your work?Papers will be graded for both form (clarity, accuracy, and persuasiveness of writing) and content (the quality of your research, if relevant, plus the thoughtfulness of your own ideas and contributions to the issues at hand).
Grade of "A": A clearly and persuasively written treatment of the your topic, thorough and insightful, with original and informative ideas based on careful research and/or thoughtful reassessment of the issue(s) involved. The writing is not hampered by grammatical or stylistic problems, but is notable for its clarity and verbal fluency.
Grade of "B": A good paper in most ways, but generally less thoughtful than “A” work and/or less successfully written. In a research paper, a student may clearly develop information about a topic rather than argue a thesis. While the writing style may be less fluid or sophisticated than the “A” paper's, it remains quite competent and easily readable.
Grade of "C": An essay that demonstrates only some understanding of the assignment’s concepts or only partially succeeds in arguing a thesis; the writing may be comprehensible but often awkward, and grammatical errors make understanding it an effort.Grade of "D": Seriously flawed work that lacks necessary understanding of the material and fails to articulate a coherent argument. Such a paper may rely heavily on quotations and others' work, rather than developing original and thoughtful ideas. The writing demonstrates carelessness through grammatical errors, mistaken wording, and/or typos.
Grade of "F": The paper fails to address the assignment in fundamental ways and likely shows signs of lack of effort.
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